The krill industry has been exposed in a new report published by Greenpeace, and stockists are removing krill products from their shelves. UK health and beauty chain Boots has removed their products from sale, and items include krill oil as a health supplement both under their own brand and from third party brands.
Krill is eaten by whales and penguins, and fishing for it creates direct competition between animals living in the Antarctic. As well as being sold as a health supplement, it is also used in pet food and for fishmeal for farmed fish.
The report reveals that the intensive fishing for krill not only creates direct competition for food between wildlife, but has found that fishing vessels are anchored close to specially protected areas, ignoring the potential impact on the wildlife and the seafloor.
There is also the risks of fuel and oil spills, fire and ship groundings in the area, which would have a detrimental effect on wildlife in the pristine Antarctic waters. Risky fishing practices known as transhipment (transfer to catch) with big reefers that have a long list of infringements, and transhipment has been linked to environmental and labour rights abuses around the world because of the lack of transparency.
Frida Bengtsson from Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign said: “The krill industry in the Antarctic presents itself as purer than snow – but the real story is a murky one of vessels fishing from the bottom of the food chain near the feeding grounds of whales, penguins and other animals. They’re waging a tug-of-war for food with animals in the region, in an area already struggling with change.
“Climate change is impacting on krill numbers and Antarctic wildlife shouldn’t have to be directly competing for food with trawlers just so these companies can sell health pills on the other side of the world.
“If the krill industry wants to show it’s a responsible player, then it should be voluntarily getting out of any area which is being proposed as an ocean sanctuary, and should instead be backing the protection of these huge swathes of the Antarctic.”
You can read the full report here.